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Danny Hopkins takes early Virginia Senior Stroke Play Lead
First round Virginia Senior Stroke play leader Danny Hopkins <br>(VSGA Photo)
First round Virginia Senior Stroke play leader Danny Hopkins
(VSGA Photo)
SALEM, VA (June 12, 2017) - The top of the leaderboard at the 32nd Virginia Senior Stroke Play Championship features a little bit of the expected, as well as the unexpected.

First, the expected. Keith Decker, who has won 28 VSGA championships and was recently inducted into the Virginia Golf Hall of Fame, posted a 1-under-par 70 at Hidden Valley Country Club. What’s unexpected is who Decker trails heading into Tuesday’s second and final round of the championship for the 50-and-over crowd: Roanoke’s Danny Hopkins, who entered the week tied for 35th in the VSGA Senior Player Rankings.

Hopkins (Blacksburg CC) birdied his first two holes and returned a 2-under 69, giving him a one-shot lead over Decker halfway through the 36-hole championship.

Hopkins actually got to 5 under before he made his first bogey, on the par-4 14th. That started an unfortunate run of three bogeys in four holes. He recovered with a par on No. 18, helping him take the overnight lead.

Decker had to battle through a rough patch of his own. He was 4 under before making his first bogey on the par-4 9th. Then came bogeys at 10, 12 and 14 before Decker managed to stabilize thanks to back-to-back birdies on Nos. 15 and 16.

Four players shot even-par 71s and were tied for third, two shots behind Hopkins: Philip Mahone (Farmington CC), John Steele (Westwood CC), Tim Moore (The Virginian GC) and Jim Wright (Blue Hills GC).

Defending Senior Stroke Play champion Mike Krulich (Ballyhack GC) was among the three tied for seventh after carding a 1-over 72 on Monday. David Jordan (Willow Oaks CC) and Dave Pulk (Two Rivers CC) were the others. Pulk was the 2015 VSGA Senior Men’s Golfer of the Year.

Krulich was 1 under for the day after a birdie on No. 12. But a double bogey on the next hole put him back over par. He righted himself and made five straight pars to end his round.

Eighteen players will enter Tuesday’s round within five shots of the lead, setting up what should be an exciting finish. Decker won Senior Stroke Play titles in 2013 and 2014, was runner-up in 2015 and finished one shot out of a playoff in 2016.

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